Full Title: Poetry off the page: New Orleans artist intertwines spoken word, activism
In school, poems usually come bound up in books, printed on pages. Students read Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, all the regulars.
Mwende Katwiwa hated it. It wasn’t until she heard spoken word poetry, performed by a group of young people, that she realized the vibrant art form could be a way to explore her own identity.
Today the 25-year-old Mid-City resident, who moved to the U.S. from Kenya as a young child, uses spoken word poetry as a vehicle to tackle issues like race, gender, and identity as an immigrant. Her poems and passionate point of view have earned her recognition around the country, including ranking 3rd and 8th at the 2015 and 2016 Individual World Poetry Slam.
Katwiwa, who works with New Orleans Youth Open Mic and Team Slam New Orleans in addition to a day job at social justice nonprofit Women With a Vision, spoke with NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune about her art. On stage, she goes by the name FreeQuency.